Hell’s bells, I’ve finally written my first proper blog post! I have to confess, since starting this blog, I’ve been hit by a fair bit of blogger stage-fright. I’m a sensitive soul. But competitive sort that I am, seeing that Jamie is already five blog posts in, I figured it was finally time to give this blog-writing thing a go.
So I thought I’d start off a (hopefully) regular ongoing feature here on A Competitive Couple, where I do a quick recap of the games we played last month, along with a few of our first impressions!
Arctic Scavengers is a great little deck building game where the world has been plunged into another ice age, and as the leader of a small tribe of survivors, players must battle for survival.
Without spoiling Jamie’s review, I think it’s fair to say that Jamie enjoys this game slightly more than I do. Personally, as deck-building goes, I prefer the superhero theme and co-op gameplay of Marvel Legendary. At a two player count, there’s too little player interaction for my liking – with the exception of the contested resources, it never really feels like you’re battling for resources, which feels a little at odds with the theme for me.
However, I’m a big fan of the bluffing element to the ‘skirmish’ stage of each round, where players reveal any number of cards that they had set aside earlier in the round, with the strongest hand winning a contested resource – those moments were when I felt the most invested in what the other player was doing.
Pandemic Legacy Season 2
You know, before I got into this hobby, I never thought there’d be such a thing as board game spoilers, but here we are.
Now don’t worry – I’m keeping schtum on any details of Pandemic Legacy Season 2 here, I’ll keep it more cryptic than the Agricola rulebook. But I will say we are as far as March, and that our last game started promising before descending into disaster.
We were huge fans of Pandemic Legacy Season 1. It’s fair to say that alongside Marvel Legendary, it was once of the first games to get us hooked on the hobby. Season 2 has a lot to live up to – and although it’s early days, I’m not yet wholly convinced it’ll quite reach the highs of Season 1, let alone top it. I really like it, but I wan’t to love it – and I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t.
I guess the jury’s still out on this one.
Beyond Baker Street
As a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, Beyond Baker Street was a game I was really looking forward to – and it didn’t disappoint!
To solve a ‘case’ in Beyond Baker Street, you’ll need to confirm three ‘leads’ – Suspect, Motive and Opportunity. Each lead has an icon and a value, much like a conventional playing card. Players must use their clue cards to add up to the exact total and correct value on the lead card.
One problem – you can’t look at your hand of cards. A core mechanism it shares with Hanabi, you hold your hand facing the other players – you must give each other clues.
The theme works exceptionally well with the core mechanism of the game – this truly is a game of memory, deduction, perfect for aspiring sleuths. It plays very well at two players and it’s design is beautiful to look at to boot – definitely a game that’s going on my wishlist!
The Quest for El Dorado
The Quest for El Dorado is a fab family-friendly racing game where players take the roles of expedition leaders in South America, searching for the legendary land of gold. Each player buys cards from a common market to form a team, and the first player to El Dorado wins!
When Jamie picked up this game to play at our local board game cafe, I have to admit I was a little cynical – especially when we opened the box to discover it was a German edition! Thankfully, someone had enclosed a printout of the rules in English, but we hardly needed them – gameplay in El Dorado is so simple and intuitive! It doesn’t suffer at a two player count either – on the contrary, I feel that it gives the game a more tactical dynamic, as you can use your meeples as a means of blocking your opponent from their preferred path. We were also both big fans of how deck building is used in this game to move across the board – it feels like such a refreshing take, and would be a great entry point into deck building and card drafting.
Houston, we have a problem. Honestly – I wish we liked spaceship-crafting, tile-laying game Galaxy Trucker more than we do.
Sure, frantic and panicked ship-building is tremendous fun, it really is. Scrambling through the pile of tech to find and place the pieces you need is, quite frankly, joyful. As is the hilarity that ensues when your fellow player’s spacecraft crumbles before their very eyes to their horror thanks to a few faulty connections.
But when it comes to the flight itself in phase two, it feels like the energy and fun of the the earlier phase just fizzles out. You flip cards, and things happen to you – with very few meaningful decisions. And that’s probably still great if there’s a group of you, and you laugh as player’s ships take a beating, but when there’s just two of you, it just lacks tension.
Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time
In a nutshell, Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time is a fast and fun co-op heist game, a delicious little brainteaser that doesn’t outstay its welcome and has stunning artwork to boot. Can you tell I really, really liked this game?!
It’s definitely going to need a couple more plays to see if it stays a favourite, but there’s a lot to like about Citadel of Time. There’s almost a steampunk-esque aesthetic, colours are muted without it being blandly brown and colourless. I really love different player roles and abilities in games, especially in co-ops, and we really liked how each turn you draw two cards from your character deck, but can only use one during the action phase.
Our one big frustration with the game? The busyness of the board. More specifically, we feel like it should have been made a lot easier to distinguish which switches are off, from which switches are on – it can be frustrating to realise you’ve missed a switch when you’re poised and ready to seize a treasure!
Onitama is a two player abstract strategy game, where you play as two opposing martial arts dojos vying for victory. Each player holds two Movement cards, and each card shows the possible moves for any of their pieces. Once a player has made their move, they set the used Movement card aside, replacing it with the Movement card set aside by the other player on their turn. The game is won when you’ve captured an opponent’s Master, or by moving your Master into the opponent’s Temple Arch.
There’s no beating about the bush here – it looks and plays an awful lot like chess. But this feels like chess’ younger, hipper millennial sibling – Onitama is slick, quick, intuitive and addictive. A game plays in as little as 10 minutes – but it’s hard not to let it descend into a 30 minute best of three.
For players like me, who are a little intimidated by the scale and scope of chess, Onitama feels like a really great alternative. But it’ll be really interesting to see what it’s like after a few more plays – I’m very curious to see if replayability issues start creeping in after a while.